When you’re running your own business, breaking even isn’t enough. While your competitors move forward, you fall behind. So if you want to survive, you need advice to make your small business thrive. That means spending your time and resources on the things that are going to make the biggest difference. Think of it as investing where you’ll get the biggest return. Here are some lessons learned from small business owners like you that can help your company thrive.
How do know if what you’re doing works? For Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre, the key is to define what you expect, then measure it. For example, say you want to learn whether your website is producing results. The first step is to identify what action you want visitors to take. For example, do you want them to come in to your store, call you, fill out a form, or buy online?
One way to measure if you’ve reached that goal is through search-engine advertising. For Sawyier, it is the most transparent and direct application of dollars to an outcome in terms of revenue. If results are favorable, you invest more. If not, you adjust. Measurement is what should drive your action.
When faced with a new opportunity, how do you decide what’s right for your business? For Tanner Dame of Proof Eyewear, the answer is to stay true to your mission. Dame and his co-owner brothers base their decisions on the three pillars—produce unique sustainable eyewear, give back to the good causes they believe in, and stay true to their heritage and past. If an opportunity doesn’t support these principles, it’s time to re-evaluate it.
They applied that to their appearance on the hit TV show, Shark Tank. The brothers rejected two offers from celebrity moguls to expand their business. It was more important for them to keep the control. Instead, they raised the capital from people who contacted them after the show admiring their mission. Their success was based on remaining true to their principles.
How do you know what customers really want? For Rachel Rinard of Sylvan Furniture, the secret is to find new ways to connect with them. In her business, styles always change so it is important to keep up on trends. That’s where social media comes in.
Rinard gauges how much interest there is in a product based on the response she gets to posts on popular social media channels like Facebook. It helps her measure where she should put her time and money. And it lets her start conversations with potential customers. The key is connecting with customers, and then listening.
Thriving businesses learn what’s going to make the biggest difference. That’s where they spend their resources. Consider whether the lessons learned from these owners can be applied to your small business.